One in five organ donors connected to fentanyl

VANCOUVER COURIER | Mike Howell
BC Transplant, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, says 19 per cent of deceased organ donors last year had fentanyl in their system at time of death. Photo Dan Toulgoet
One in five deceased organ donors in B.C. last year had the deadly synthetic narcotic fentanyl in their system when they arrived at a hospital, according to statistics supplied to the Courier from BC Transplant.

That equates to 19 per cent, or 23 people out of 121, who donated organs to people requiring transplants for such organs as a kidney, liver and lungs. BC Transplant did not have a breakdown on how many or what type of organs came from people who had fentanyl in their system at the time of death.

The agency also cautioned that not everyone who presented with fentanyl in their system necessarily died of a drug overdose, said Dr. David Landsberg, BC Transplant’s provincial medical director for transplant services.

“They may have been using drugs and had a head injury, which was the cause of their death,” Landsberg told the Courier. “The drug might have contributed to the behaviour that led to the death, but it doesn’t actually mean that they died from fentanyl.”

That said, Landsberg pointed out that not every donor admitted to hospital would have been tested for fentanyl. The circumstances of why a person was at hospital may not have required drug testing, he said. Continue reading
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